The Italian Traditions and Puccini

The Italian Traditions and Puccini

Compositional Theory and Practice in Nineteenth-Century Opera
Nicholas Baragwanath
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 07/08/2011
ISBN: 978-0-253-00166-5
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In this groundbreaking survey of the fundamentals, methods, and formulas that were taught at Italian music conservatories during the 19th century, Nicholas Baragwanath explores the compositional significance of tradition in Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi, Boito, and, most importantly, Puccini. Taking account of some 400 primary sources, Baragwanath explains the varying theories and practices of the period in light of current theoretical and analytical conceptions of this music. The Italian Traditions and Puccini offers a guide to an informed interpretation and appreciation of Italian opera by underscoring the proximity of archaic traditions to the music of Puccini.

Author Bio

Nicholas Baragwanath is Director of Postgraduate Studies and Associate Professor of Musicology in the Department of Music, University of Nottingham.


“This groundbreaking survey offers a guide to an informed interpretation and appreciation of Italian opera by underscoring the proximity of archaic traditions to the music of Puccini.”

“Baragwanath represents with admirable clarity the most important (and entangled) facets of the Italian theoretical traditions. . . . An impressive tour de force.”
 — Giorgio Sanguinetti, University of Rome, Tor Vergata

“Dense and challenging in its detail and analysis, this work is an important addition to the growing corpus of Puccini studies. . . . Highly recommended. ”
 — Choice

“[B]y offering another component to the analyst’s tool kit, Baragwanath has comprehensively achieved what he set out to do: create a framework for further study.”
 — Music and Letters

“[Offers] us no less than a thorough reappraisal of how composition was learned by those who would actually become composers.57.1 Spring 2013”
 — Journal of Music Theory

“Nicholas Baragwanath has made a major contribution – one of the most major to date, in any language – not only to Puccini studies but also to the study of nineteenth-century Italian opera in general.”
 — Nineteenth-Century Music Review

“Baragwanath’s is a very full treatment of Italian teaching methods and curricula, now based not ony on traditional harmony but on other relevant strategies for learning to create what every Italian composer wanted to create: opera. The pedagogical traditions and the Puccini family’s part in them are traced…broadly… The positivistic research is thorough and results in a reference-source useful to all further historians of 19th-century Italian opera…. The topic is a big one, with many ramifications, and the book does provide a definitive service in explaining the prevailing Italian view that ‘music should be pleasing, fulfilling or entertaining in a variety of contexts.' ”
 — Musical Times

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Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgements
A Note on Translation and Terminology
1: Musical Traditions in Nineteenth-Century Italy
I. The Italian Schools
II. An Introduction to the Primary Sources
III. Puccini and the End of the Great Tradition
2. Studies in Lucca and Milan
I. Composition as Craft
II. The Istituto musicale in Lucca
III. Scarpia and the Partimento Cadence
IV. The Conservatorio di Milano
3. Lessons in Dramatic Composition I: Rhythm
I. Rhythm without Measure, Accent without Beat
II. Rules of Versification, Lippmann’s Rhythmic-Musical Types, and Two Case-Studies
III. Historical Survey of Writings on Ritmo
IV. Short Case-Studies from Bellini and Puccini
4. Lessons in Dramatic Composition II: Harmony and Counterpoint
I. The Partimento Tradition
II. Michele Puccini’s Corso pratico di contrappunto (1846)
III. The Bolognese Attachment, or "Little Keys for Winding Clocks"
IV. Regular Motions and Melodic Composition
5. Lessons in Dramatic Composition III: Affect, Imitation, and Conduct
I. Dominant Affects and their Movements
II. Physical and Sentimental Imitation
III. Form and Conduct
IV. Case-Studies from Verdi, Boito, and Puccini
6. Vocalizzi, Solfeggi, and Real (or Ideal) Composition
I. Lessons in Singing and Counterpoint
II. Lessons in Singing and Solfeggio
III. From Solfeggio to Ideal Composition in Puccini (and Bellini)
Index of Concepts
Index of Names and Works